Bad Company are an English hard rock supergroup founded in 1973, consisting of band members from Free (Paul Rodgers, Simon Kirke), Mott the Hoople (Mick Ralphs), and King Crimson (Boz Burrell). Bad Company was managed by Peter Grant, who had also guided Led Zeppelin to massive success. The band enjoyed great success throughout the 1970s.
The original Paul Rodgers era (1973???1982)
Singer Paul Rodgers was so enamoured of the film Bad Company that he chose to name his band after it. The film was also purportedly the inspiration for the band's eponymous album and breakthrough single.
The 1974 debut album Bad Company was an international hit, with the group considered one of the 1970s' first supergroups. Bad Company consisted of four seasoned musicians: two former members of Free, singer Paul Rodgers and drummer Simon Kirke; former Mott the Hoople guitarist Mick Ralphs; and King Crimson bassist Boz Burrell. The group was managed by Peter Grant, who also managed Led Zeppelin at the time and would manage Bad Company until 1982, when Swan Song Records folded. The album peaked at #1 on Billboard's Pop Albums chart (North America) and included two singles that reached the top 20 charts, "Can't Get Enough" at #5 in 1974 and "Movin' On" at #19 in early 1975. In 1975, Straight Shooter gave the group another #1 on Billboard's Pop Albums chart. The album also spawned two hit singles, "Good Lovin' Gone Bad" at #36 and the slower "Feel Like Makin' Love" at #10.
In late 1975, Paul Kossoff joined Bad Company and his ex-Free colleagues, Paul Rodgers and Simon Kirke, on stage for two nights to play Free's hit "All Right Now". Bad Company scheduled a British tour, along with Kossoff's new band, Back Street Crawler, to support Bad Company's 1975 album Run With the Pack as well as a new album by Back Street Crawler. This double headline tour was scheduled to commence on 25 April 1976, but was halted due to Kossoff's death on 19 March 1976.
Run With the Pack was Bad Company's first Platinum certified album. The third consecutive million-selling record, reaching #5 on the Billboard chart and featured the hit "Young Blood" that peaked at #20 on the Pop charts.
1977's Burnin' Sky fared the poorest of the first four albums, peaked at a disappointing #15 and was the worst selling Bad Company album to date. The album did have one single that charted: the album's title song, "Burnin' Sky", which reached #78 on the Pop charts. 1979's Desolation Angels fared better than its predecessor and gave the band their first Top 5 Platinum selling album since 1976's album Run With the Pack. Desolation Angels embellished the group's sound with synthesisers and strings. The album reached #3 on the Billboard charts and again had two charting singles: "Rock 'n' Roll Fantasy" at #13 and "Gone Gone Gone" at #56.
By the end of the 1970s, the band grew increasingly disenchanted with playing large stadiums. In addition, Peter Grant lost interest in the group, and in management generally, after Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham died on 25 September, 1980. In the words of Simon Kirke, "Peter was definitely the glue which held us all together and in his absence we came apart". (Reportedly, Paul Rodgers???who has a black belt in martial arts???was involved in a rather one-sided physical altercation with Boz Burrell and Mick Ralphs.)
A three-year hiatus from the studio ended with the release of Rough Diamonds in 1982. This would be the sixth and final LP in the group's original incarnation until four new songs were recorded in 1998. The album was the worst selling Bad Company album of those that had Paul Rodgers as the front man. The album peaked at #26 and featured "Electricland" (#74), that reached #2 on the newly created Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart.
After the release of Rough Diamonds, they disbanded. Mick Ralphs said, "Paul wanted a break and truthfully we all needed to stop. Bad Company had become bigger than us all and to continue would have destroyed someone or something. From a business standpoint, it was the wrong thing to do, but Paul's instinct was absolutely right".
Despite being famous for their live shows packing the largest stadiums for almost a decade, Bad Company did not release an official live album of performances from this time period until the 2006 album Live in Albuquerque 1976. The recordings were made by Mick Ralphs, who regularly taped the group's shows, utilizing them as a tool to finely tune their set and performances. Bootlegs of Bad Company's live performances from this period were also available, including "Boblingen Live" (1974), "Live in Japan" (1975) and "Shooting Star Live at the L.A. Forum" (1975).
The Brian Howe era (1986???1994)
In 1986, Mick Ralphs and Simon Kirke decided to reteam for a new project. Their label, Atlantic Records , however, insisted they resume the Bad Company name. But Paul Rodgers was already engaged with a new supergroup called The Firm. So the remaining two members hired ex-Ted Nugent vocalist Brian Howe as the new lead singer, Steven Price as the new bass player and Greg Dechert (ex-Uriah Heep) on keyboards. Howe's vocal style brought more of a pop-rock sound to the band, as opposed to Rodgers' more bluesy style. The band hired Foreigner producer Keith Olsen to produce the new lineup's initial album, 1986's Fame and Fortune. Reflecting the musical style of the mid-80s, the album was laden with keyboards, unlike previous Bad Company albums, and was only modestly commercially successful, failing to break the Top 100. The single "This Love" managed to reach #85 on the Singles charts.
Burrell agreed to rejoin the band and was name checked on the Fame and Fortune album, even though he didn't play on it. But just before the supporting tour, he left once again. Price then returned. In 1987, Dechert was dropped from the lineup as the group decided not to play up the keyboards in their sound as much. They toured that year supporting Deep Purple.
For the next Howe-era album, 1988's Dangerous Age, the band replaced Olsen with producer Terry Thomas, who got rid of most of the keyboards and returned the band to a guitar-driven sound. Thomas also added small amounts of keyboards as well as rhythm guitars and backing vocals and wrote most of the songs with the band. Dangerous Age fared better than its predecessor, spawning several MTV videos and the AOR hits "No Smoke Without A Fire" (#4), "One Night" (#9) and "Shake It Up" (#9, also #89 on the Singles charts). The album went Gold and hit the Top 60. For the Dangerous Age tour, the band were augmented by Larry Oakes (keyboards, guitar), who had also played with Foreigner for a short time. Price and Oakes left at the conclusion of the tour.
After the Dangerous Age tour, during which the band travelled separately from Howe as they could no longer tolerate his behaviour, they set about finding a replacement for him. However, Howe, hoping to launch a solo career, was unable to secure a record deal and eventually the band was forced to allow him back as a result of pressure to produce a new album from outside influences.
The band's next album, 1990's Holy Water, also produced by Thomas, was enormously successful both critically and commercially, attaining Top 40 and Platinum status by selling more than one million copies. "Holy Water" was the band's first album on the Atlantic subsidiary Atco Records. The album spun off the singles: "If You Needed Somebody" (#16), the title track "Holy Water" (#89) and "Walk Through Fire" (#28). "Holy Water" also hit #1 for 2 weeks on the AOR charts with "If You Needed Somebody" reaching #2. The album received significant radio airplay (five songs made the AOR charts in all) and spawned several video hits. Felix Krish played bass on the CD while Paul Cullen was recruited for live shows . Mick Ralphs, who was taking care of personal and family matters, sat out for most of the Holy Water tour, although he did perform on the album. Ralphs was replaced on the road and in the videos by ex-Crawler guitarist Geoffrey Whitehorn. Ralphs returned later on during the tour and Whitehorn joined Procol Harum where he still plays to this day. Also joining at this time was ex-ASAP guitarist Dave "Bucket" Colwell as second guitarist. Many of the dates on the tour were successful and featured Damn Yankees as co-headliners. The tour was one of the most profitable of 1991, a year which saw many other rock acts facing a downturn in concert attendance brought on by rising ticket prices and economic recession.
The final studio album of the Howe era, 1992's Here Comes Trouble, featured the Top 40 hit "How About That" (#38) and "This Could Be The One" (#87). The album went Gold, but the formula was growing stale. Before touring in support of Here Comes Trouble, the band added ex-Foreigner, Roxy Music and Small Faces bassist Rick Wills and Colwell, a prot?©g?© of Ralphs, was now a full-time member. The band recorded a live album, What You Hear Is What You Get: The Best of Bad Company on the Here Comes Trouble tour. The album, released in 1993, featured live versions of hits from both the Rodgers and Howe eras of the band, but sold poorly.
Howe left the band in 1994. Regarding his departure from the band, Howe stated: "Leaving Bad Company was not a difficult decision. It had got to the point where nobody was contributing anything to songwriting and quite frankly, the band was getting very very sloppy live. I quite simply, along with Terry Thomas, got tired of doing all the work and then getting nothing but resentment for it from Mick and Simon."
The Robert Hart era (1995???1997)
After Howe's departure, the remaining foursome hired ex-Distance vocalist Robert Hart to take over lead vocal duties. Unlike Howe (who had a different style and a higher range), Hart was closer in voice and an imitator of Rodgers. The new lineup released Company of Strangers in 1995 which came out on EastWest Records and peaked at #159 on the Album charts. It produced the AOR hit "Down And Dirty" (#17). Stories Told & Untold was released in October 1996 and bombed commercially. The album contains re-recordings of seven of Bad Company's biggest hits ("told" stories), and seven new songs ("untold" stories). Many of these were recorded in Nashville and featured guest appearances by Country stars such as Vince Gill...but the new lineup was a commercial flop on record and on tour.
The second Paul Rodgers era (1998???2002)
During his absence from Bad Company, Rodgers was involved in many projects. His solo album, Cut Loose, was released in October 1983, and Muddy Water Blues: A Tribute to Muddy Waters hit record store shelves in 1993. He would also participate in two band-projects: The Firm, with Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin fame, and The Law with ex-The Who drummer Kenney Jones.
In 1998, Rodgers and Kirke were discussing release of an extensive compilation album with a biography and pictures for the fans. Rodgers decided the album should include four new songs. He finally reunited with the other three original members in the studio to record these four new tracks. The reunion was short, but it produced a Top 20 AOR hit with "Hey Hey" (#15). The second new song "Hammer of Love" peaked at #23. The new tracks appeared on the 1999 compilation album called The Original Bad Company Anthology which crawled to #189. Many fans were displeased with the track listing which left off many favorites, although a number of rare tracks did appear. The reunited original foursome toured in the summer of '99 for only 30 dates in the U.S. The shows drew well. The following year, Ralphs announced he was retiring from live performing and Burrell left again as well bringing the reunion to an end.
Paul Rodgers again rejoined Kirke in 2001 for a tour that kicked off in the U.S. and included co-headlining dates with Styx and Billy Squier as special guest. Wills and Colwell took over for the departed Ralphs and Burrell. The tour did decent business then moved to the U.K. The band secured some dates on the West Coast of the US to record a new live album and DVD Merchants of Cool, which featured the song "Joe Fabulous," which hit #1 on radio and the top 20 on Mainstream Rock Radio in the U.S. in its debut week. The Merchants of Cool promotional tour in 2002 once again featured Kirke and Rodgers as the only original members left. Colwell again took lead guitar and Jaz Lochrie, who had played live and recorded with Paul Rodgers from 1995 on, was on bass. Guest performers at the shows included former Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash and Neal Schon of Journey fame. After the 2002 tour, Bad Company went inactive once again as Rodgers returned to his solo career.
In 2005, a DVD called Inside Bad Company 1974-1982 was released that reviews Bad Company on stage, on film and on record. It also interviews Simon Kirke and has some live recordings from the 70s and 80s. This was an unauthorized release.
In 2005, Paul Rodgers began touring and playing Bad Company songs with Queen. It was stated, including on Brian May's own website, "that Rodgers would be featured with Queen as: Queen + Paul Rodgers, not replacing the late Freddie Mercury". The CD and DVD of their collaboration was released in 2005 called Return of the Champions with songs by Queen, Bad Company and Free. On 28 April 2006, they released a live DVD from their show in Tokyo called Super Live in Japan. There are many bootlegs from nearly every show of the 2005 and 2006 tours in audio, as well as a few in video form.
In 2005, Robert Hart was fronting "The Jones Gang", a band started by Kenney Jones. They had a US Billboard Hot Singles number one hit with their debut single "Angel".
In 2006, a limited edition CD of 24 carat gold was released of the first Bad Company album (Bad Company). After taking over a year to find the original master tapes, the analog masters were put through a proprietary analog-to-digital converter that remastered the songs for the best possible sound.
Boz Burrell died of a heart attack on 21 September 2006, aged 60, at his home in Spain.
On 6 May 2007, Robert Hart, Dave "Bucket" Colwell and Jaz Lochrie performed a small pub in Surbiton for The Macmillan Cancer Trust. Performing as Rock and Roll Fantasy, they offered a show of Bad Company songs for an audience of just a few hundred. They were joined by Mick Ralphs.
In 2008, Bad Company toured in the following formation: Robert Hart, Mick Ralphs, Dave "Bucket" Colwell, Jaz Lochrie, Gary "Harry" James, and were called "Mick Ralphs' Bad Company"
On 2nd of July 2008, it was announced that the original remaining line-up of Bad Company would do a one-off gig at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida on 8 August 2008. According to Paul Rodgers, they did this gig in order to "protect the legacy they have built and cement the rights to the trademark Bad Company for touring.
Paul Rodgers, Mick Ralphs and Simon Kirke performed together again during the summer of 2009, playing 10 shows throughout the United States.
Paul Rodgers - vocals, piano
Mick Ralphs - guitars, keyboards
Simon Kirke - drums, percussion
Howard Leese - guitar
Lynn Sorensen - bass
Brian Howe - lead vocals, sax (1986-1994)
Boz Burrell - bass (1973-1982, 1986, 1998-1999)
Geoff Whitehorn - guitar (1990-1991)
Rick Wills - bass (1992-1997, 1999)
Dave "Bucket" Colwell - guitars, keyboards (1990-1997, 1999-2002, 2008)
Robert Hart - lead vocals (1994-1997)
Jaz Lochrie - bass (2000-2002, 2008)
Gary "Harry" James - drums
2009 Summer tour
June 17 Hollywood, FL Hard Rock Live
June 19 Atlanta, GA Chastain Park Amphitheatre
June 20 Charlotte, NC Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre Charlotte
June 23 Raleigh, NC The Time Warner Cable Music Pavilion at Walnut Creek
June 24 Virginia Beach, VA Verizon Wireless Virginia Beach Amphitheater
June 27 Bethel, NY Bethel Woods Center for the Arts
June 28 Wantagh, NY Nikon at Jones Beach Theatre
July 01 Clarkston, MI DTE Energy Music Theatre
July 02 Canandaigua, NY CMAC
July 04 Atlantic City, NJ Resorts Atlantic City